“The blackberries are dripping from the trees” F remarked as we headed out on a Sunday afternoon walk. The brambles have intertwined themselves with the branches of the wild cherry saplings and boast clusters of lush, shiny, intensely black, berries that parade a range of tart, earthy, and cloyingly sweet fruits that muddle together in a pastry crust to create the central dessert at our Christmas celebration. I already have the bag stashed away in the freezer and daily add to the frozen berry collection as the little boys abandon their containers of berries on the kitchen counter, their bellies aching from the sweet, juicy, goodness that lines our driveway.
But there are only so many frozen blackberries you can use and, after my 90 lb cherry extravaganza earlier this summer, I am not feeling inclined toward canning just now. That leaves a 1 mile stretch of road with bushels of blackberries and I feel sad when I think of them shriveling up on their vines. The only thing to do is enjoy them now, fresh, and often. Every walk takes a little more time, budgeting for the inevitable “berry break,” and I am often reminded of one summer not so long ago, as C and I were preparing to move from here to Colorado when our last few afternoons were spent nibbling blackberry hand pies in the afternoon with cups of strong coffee while the baby slept and C studied for entrance exams. 3 years later, we are back in the Pacific Northwest (indefinitely) in the same house with an almost 4 yr old who is now an over eager berry picker. Today, we also had 19 egg whites that had to vacate the fridge and the brother visiting from the Midwest deserved a proper farewell. After all, he ran the Crater Lake Marathon this weekend and survived the flu that hit up all but 1 of the household in the last 10 days. Thus was born the Blackberry Tumble: a wedge of angel food cake topped with a dollop of softly whipped cream and a spoon of macerated blackberries.
I followed the Food Networks recipe for angel food cake nearly to a T, including the part where you pulverize your granulated sugar into a powder, but then realized I didn’t have cake flour and used unbleached all purpose flour instead. . .friend, I could not tell the difference, the cake was springy and tender, everything I could have hoped for. A teaspoon full of sugar whisked into 3/4 of a cup of heavy whipping cream cut the sweetness of the cake. As for the blackberries, we used a generous 3 cups of freshly picked berries, the zest of half an orange, and sugar to taste. We gently stirred the three ingredients together, allowing the berries to release a bit of their juice and then spooned it generously on top of our cake slices. Their tart-sweet flavor and deep purple color balanced out the composition in what was a pleasing end to a Monday evening and a sweet farewell.
Safe travels brother!